Murray: present. A present, that is, for Kentucky. And a little bit of a surprise, too.
Is UK once again going to be the No. 1 team in the country heading into a season?
The Big Blue Nation picked up the final missing piece to what’s likely to be a stellar starting five next season when it landed the verbal commitment of Canadian combo guard Jamal Murray on Wednesday night.
This means Kentucky’s starting five for 2015-16 is likely to be:
• Sophomore Tyler Ulis: Sophomore point guard, and among the best 1s in the college game.
• Freshman Jamal Murray: A solid distributor, good shooter, a “positionless” kind of player, the kind of guy John Calipari has been trying to land in recent years. He can also run the floor when Ulis is out of the game. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs approximately 180 pounds.
• Freshman Isaiah Briscoe: A five-star point guard who will make Kentucky’s attack look very interesting next season. It will likely be Ulis’ offense to run, but Murray and Briscoe are absolutely capable with the ball in their hands.
• Junior Alex Poythress: Former five-star power forward recruit who sat out most of last season due to injury. Poythress is now the seasoned vet and very much a possible future NBA pick.
• Freshman Skal Labissiere: A five-star center prospect, perhaps the incoming freshman in all of college hoops whose body and skillset is more NBA-ready than anyone.
Get ready for Kentucky-has-the-best-backcourt-in-the-country chatter, because it seems like that’s likely to be the case.
And although this is another case of Calipari catching a big fish, the choice here is something of a surprise. UK has actually missed on a lot of top prospects to this point in 2015, and 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball projection had Oregon at 75/25 over UK for Murray’s services. Instead, UK loads up again and will have a legitimate case as being the top team in the country once more.
Not bad for a program that is hoping it gets seven players from last season’s team drafted in Brooklyn on Thursday night.